As delicious as a sweet is, the story behind it is even more ”delicious.” If the science of history fails to explain the origin of sweets, mythology comes to create stories with dominant protagonists of flour, sugar, and eggs. Actual facts, myths, and rumors are mixed into a story of a delectable culinary journey. Today, we introduce you to the history of five famous sweets that transfer the art and mastery of pastry to our plate.
The story of Madeleine, the clam-shaped cake, has many different versions. According to the basic scenario, in 1755, the deposed King of Poland, Staniswaf Leszczynski, lived in Lorraine in France. During the preparation of the dinner, a cook destroyed the dessert that was to be served. A maid named Madeleine Palmier, trying to ”save the day,” suggested an easy cake recipe made by her grandmother. She baked the fluffy dough in clam-shaped molds. They were so successful that the King’s wife, Maria Lechinska, introduced them to Versailles.
At the same time, however, family-owned pastry shops began to open, consolidating Madeleine as a region’s specialty. No matter where Madeleine came from, its fame outside France is due to Marcel Proust, who referred to the sweet in his work: in search of lost time.
- Reims’s pink biscuit
In the 17th century, in the town of Reims, in the province of Campania in northern France, many bakeries had opened. A baker taking advantage of the oven’s heat, made a special dough for cookies which was baked twice until the final product took its ultimate form. The characteristic pink color is due to the addition of Carmine, a natural red pigment derived from the dried body of the cochineal insect that lives on cactuses. The composition of the cookies was such that after the second baking, they became crispy and compact on the outside and soft on the inside.
In addition to these cookies, champagne comes from the town of Reims. So, locals used to dip the pink biscuits in the foaming wine. That is why they have an elongated shape to facilitate their dipping into the flute glasses of champagne. The recipe of the biscuit rose de Reims is now owned by Fossier, maintaining a centuries-old tradition.
- The Sweet Paris-Brest
In 1891, a bicycle race began, the Paris-Brest-Paris route covering 1,200 km. It was invented by the journalist of “Le Petit Journal,” Pierre Giffard, who, in order to boost the circulation of the newspaper, followed the practice of other publishers. The practice was to organize sports competitions.
In 1910, a confectioner from the village of Maison-Lafitte, Louis Durand, made an eclair-shaped bagel, which was attached to a bicycle wheel to honor cyclists. He filled it with praline cream, rich in energy. Today, the Paris-Brest cycle route takes place every four years. At the same time, Mr. Duran’s Patisserie still prepares the dessert with the original recipe.
- Sweet Alaska
In 1804, Sir Benjamin Thompson invented “Baked Alaska.” Dealing with the insulating properties of the materials, he observed that the temperature is better maintained when the material has the property of enclosing air in it. So, he discovered that meringue and sponge cake are insulating materials. To prove it, he spread ice cream on a sponge cake base and covered the whole thing with meringue. He put the dessert in the oven. The ice cream did not melt, and his claim proved to be true.
He created the ”omelette à la norvègienne” (Norwegian omelet), as the dessert was called because of its external appearance. But the history of the sweet doesn’t stop there. On March 30, 1867, the Americans bought Alaska from the Russians. To celebrate the event, New York’s Delmonico’s restaurant added this dessert called ”Alaska-Florida.” The contrast between cold and hot in the sweet reminds us of the great differences in temperature in these two regions of America. Later, the word ”Florida” was removed, resulting in the sweet appearing as ”Alaska” or ”Baked Alaska” today.
The chocolate paste named Serano is a Greek sweet inspired by Tryfonas Pantazopoulos in honor of operatic singer Rosita Serano. This was the stage name of Chilean Maria Martha Esther Aldunate del Campo. She was born in 1914, and after touring Portugal and France in the 1930s, she settled in Berlin. There she enjoyed great success, which ended ingloriously in 1943.
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